Skip to main navigation menu Skip to main content Skip to site footer


Vol. 11 No. 2: April issue

Grave Reverberations: Inherited Colonial Logics during the COVID-19 Pandemic in the Philippines

August 31, 2022


Using the theory of reverberations, we track the dissonant transformation of sanitation regimes during the American colonial period in the Philippines, particularly during the cholera epidemic of 1902, to the mis/management of the COVID-19 pandemic in the present day. We argue that the formation, interpretation, and implementation of public health policies, especially with regards to the treatment of the dead, echo inherited colonial logics designed to exacerbate stigmas of virality and unruliness. In addition to past epidemics, responses to COVID-19 resonate with recurring episodes of terror formation, militarisation, and misinformation in the country. The enduring legacies of colonialism—rooted in themes of extraction, individualism, and hegemony, and masked under the guise of benevolence—live on in modern policies in ways that are not always readily apparent. Lastly, we see the notion of reverberations as one that allows analytical generosity in understanding the messiness of the postcolonial experience.